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Past Christmases in Burk Burnett Park


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#1 Saginaw

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Posted 03 December 2008 - 05:39 PM

Well, it's December, and the time comes to reminisce about when Burk Burnett Park in downtown Fort Worth was the gathering place for the Christmas holiday.

When I was a toddler in the late '60s and kid in the '70s, my Mom would always take me to Burk Burnett Park to see the annual lighting of the Christmas tree. To me, that tree seemed to be about, what, 100 feet tall? Of course, I was a short kid, anyway. laugh.gif I also remember seeing and hearing the Texas Girls Choir perform their Yuletide concert in the cold night air, dressed in their distinctive red jackets with white hosiery, shiny black Mary Jane shoes, and white gloves. The neat thing about their concerts was that they always had an ample amount of 45 RPM records to either give away or sell. If they were sold, it was about, what, a dollar, if even that. I had a copy from their concert in, I think, '71, which I had up until several years ago, cardboard sleeve and all.

And of course, there was Santa Claus! I can remember a time when he and his helpers (elves?) would be standing on either a makeshift stage or tractor trailer bed, tossing candy out to the crowd. I seem to remember the candy as the little Brach's peppermints.

Well, that was many, many years ago. The last time my Mom and I went to Burk Burnett Park for Christmas was about '72 or '73. After that, we pretty much just drove by the park to see the lighted tree, avoiding the crowds. Still, it's a most cherished childhood memory.


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#2 801hme

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Posted 03 December 2008 - 06:03 PM

I use to love going downtown when I was a kid, especially at Christmas. I remember when the tree was in Burnett park. Seems like they had speakers playing Christmas songs around it, or maybe that was later...Can anyone confirm? I also remember a Christmas Train kids could ride at Leonard's. I was pretty young and only caught the tail end of Leonard's, but I remember that Christmas train. I want to think it was kinda by where you boarded the subway.

#3 cajunmike

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Posted 03 December 2008 - 07:29 PM

Although I was 15 years old when we moved to Fort Worth in 1966, I also remember the tree in B.B. Park. If I recall the old Bairds Bread Plant on Summit and I-30 had lights on their building and a Santa.

Reminids me that in about 1971 when working for a company that had hired a Santa and he did not show up, they asked me to put the costume and beard on and at that time I was just a skinny young man. I put it on, put some make up on and went to the big Santa Chair and kids were lined up to visit Santa. I still remember one kid saying " Your not as big as the Santa at Sears and why are your eyebrows brown.
Mike

#4 headlinesman

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Posted 03 December 2008 - 10:09 PM

There was a picture on the front page of the Star Telegram in around '51 or '52 of me, my brother, and my cousins at the lighting of the tree in Burnett Park. I was about 4 or 5 and for some reason I was wearing an army helmet. Not some kid's toy helmet but a real one. I remember taking my girlfriend to the lighting while in high school, around '64 or '65 (I didn't wear an army helmet that night.)

#5 Birdland in Handley

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Posted 04 December 2008 - 02:39 AM

QUOTE (801hme @ Dec 3 2008, 06:03 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I use to love going downtown when I was a kid, especially at Christmas. I remember when the tree was in Burnett park. Seems like they had speakers playing Christmas songs around it, or maybe that was later...Can anyone confirm? I also remember a Christmas Train kids could ride at Leonard's. I was pretty young and only caught the tail end of Leonard's, but I remember that Christmas train. I want to think it was kinda by where you boarded the subway.

Downtown was great for the tree lighting and also for the window displays. As I barely recall, most downtown department stores had window displays that were amazing--many were animated, all were beautifully lit.
As you touch on Leonards: I still can't separate early 60's Leonard's reality from memory--I was just too young. That was one huge department store! Was there really a monorail near the ceiling of the store, just for little bitty kids? I can imagine riding on it. Or was it just an elaborate decoration, with fake kids and elves and such?
If anyone has pix, 'tis the season!!

#6 bailey

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Posted 04 December 2008 - 08:16 AM

As a kid in the late 50's, going downtown at Christmas was the best time of the year. Back in those days, the buildings outline of lights was only on from the day they lit the tree through New Years. We would drive downtown almost everynight to see the lights and all the immaculate window decorations. Monnig's had one window that was the same every year. It had a full size Santa in it that rocked back and forth and slapped its hand on its knee while laughing. I just loved to see that window.

#7 Owen

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Posted 04 December 2008 - 10:16 AM

Yes, there really was a miniature monorail in Leonards, just for the kids. My Christmas wasn't complete without a ride on it.

#8 Giraffe

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Posted 04 December 2008 - 09:21 PM

Back in the '70s and early '80s our family had a Christmas Eve tradition: Pig out at Pancho's Mexican Buffet, then drive downtown to see the Christmas tree at Burnett Park, and from there we'd go to the southwest side of town to Luther Lake (between Camp Bowie and SH 183) to see all the Christmas lights that homeowners had put up there.

The only time we ever went to Burnett Park was on Christmas Eve, and I never saw any crowds around the tree at that time. In fact, it was practically deserted. At least once I remember seeing a rotating star on top of the tree, with Christmas music pouring out of speakers placed in the tree, about halfway from the top.

My father used to work near Burnett Park in downtown Fort Worth and often walked through that area during his lunch hour. He told me that once, long ago, he was accosted by a bedraggled homeless woman in Burnett Park. She jumped out of the bushes and demanded five dollars from him. When he politely asked why, she barked: "Because you're the ugliest man I've ever seen in my life, and you owe me five dollars for looking at you!" She didn't get the five bucks, but Dad did get a good laugh over it. smile.gif

A couple of years ago, IIRC, crews lost control of the Christmas tree during installation in another part of downtown. High winds blew the tree over and it smashed onto somebody's luxury car. (Wouldn't you love to be the insurance investigator on THAT one?)

#9 Owen

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Posted 05 December 2008 - 01:16 AM

Ah, Luther Lake. Lived a few blocks in sight of that one 1957-67.

#10 Saginaw

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Posted 05 December 2008 - 10:30 PM

QUOTE (Giraffe @ Dec 4 2008, 09:21 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
The only time we ever went to Burnett Park was on Christmas Eve, and I never saw any crowds around the tree at that time. In fact, it was practically deserted. At least once I remember seeing a rotating star on top of the tree, with Christmas music pouring out of speakers placed in the tree, about halfway from the top.


Wow, Giraffe! You just blew away a mental cobweb of mine! rotflmao.gif

Thanks to you, I now remember the rotating star atop the Burk Burnett Park Christmas tree. I also remember that it was brightly lit with incandescent white light bulbs, and it would cast a faint glow around the tree and the park. It always caught my attention first. Good memory, Giraffe!

Not to wander too far off topic, but I also remember the many downtown shopping stores taking the time to intricately and beautifully decorate their show windows for the Christmas season. Of course, it was at a time when details weren't looked over or ignored altogther, and when a trip to downtown was an event. Sure have come a long way to today, when one can merely make purchases over the Internet.

(no soapbox-mounting intended) rolleyes.gif


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#11 waywr

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Posted 11 January 2010 - 04:10 PM

I remember my parents taking me there as a kid, and driving around downtown to look at the decorations.
Last time I remember the tree being there was in 1980. I remember going there for the John Lennon memorial deal that Dec.
Haven't been downtown in several years. Don't they put the tree by the convention center or Sundance Square now?




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